“One, two, three …”
Eleven-year-old Malia Stuart counts the seconds off in her head, almost in slow motion, as she rotates in the air above the slick sheet of ice below her.
“I am trying to reach four, but I haven’t got that far yet,” says the budding competitive figure skater from Squamish who does dryland training locally at Airhouse.
So far, she has mastered a double axel (two-and-a-half rotations), and she’s been busy pursuing landing a triple.
Malia, who also skates three days a week during the season with the Vancouver Skating Club and two days with her local club, also practices her jumps on the ice with the use of a special harness that keeps her from landing hard if she doesn’t quite finish her moves cleanly.
That commitment to training has allowed Malia to continue pushing the limits of her ability.
“Malia has always been a good rotator - she spins really quickly,” says her mom, Jena. “She’s a bold athlete in general, very powerful and strong. So, jumps and spins are her strength.”
Pretty much from her first time on the ice at age two, Malia showed adeptness for skating.
At five, she began figure skating classes and quickly rose through the levels, catching the notice of coaches.
Now, she is enjoying the competitive skating environment and has already achieved some impressive performances. During last year’s provincial competition, she placed in the top 10 in BC/Yukon out of 50 competitors.
“She is a very strong athlete, and has a desire for this sport, working hard every day to achieve her goals,” says Lorna Bauer, one of her coaches. “Despite the challenges she has faced, she comes to the rink with a positive attitude, a willingness to learn, and a hard work ethic.
“She is motivated to pursue her own limits, to be the best she can be, and in the process is acquiring amazing life skills that will enable her to be a great contributor in the community.”
“At only 11 years old, she is the youngest skater on our highest level of practice ice,” adds Maria Saraceno, another one of her coaches. “Her hard work and dedication, along with talent, is paying off as she is also passing high tests for her age.
“She is a great athlete all-around and has a high potential to go places in this sport.”